Montserrat Island, Soufriere Hills Volcano

Lava Dome of Soufrière Hills volcano (Montserrat) at Night, Jan. 28 2010 (Photo: Richard Roscoe)

Lava Dome of Soufrière Hills volcano (Montserrat) at Night, Jan. 28 2010 (Photo: Richard Roscoe)

The island of Montserrat is a British overseas territory and is situated in the northern part of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. Christopher Columbus named the island “Santa Maria de Montserrat” after the famous mountain monastery in Catalonia, Spain. Due to its similar appearance of coastal Ireland and early Irish settlers, it is nicknamed “The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean”.

The island arose from the ocean 25 million BC. It is part of a volcanic island arc formed along the junction where the Atlantic tectonic plate subducts beneath the Caribbean plate. Montserrat is only 16 km long (north – south) and 10 km wide (east – west), and is built almost exclusively of volcanic rocks. The island comprises three volcanic centers of differing age. These are, from oldest to youngest, the Silver Hills in the north, the Centre Hills in the center, and the active volcano of the Soufriere Hills and South Soufriere Hills in the south. The island is mainly composed of andesitic lavas and volcaniclastic rocks produced by dome-forming eruptions; although the South Soufriere Hills are of basaltic to basaltic-andesite composition.
Early history for Soufriere Hills volcano shows that an explosive eruption in 2000 BC (+/- 75 years) formed English’s Crater. In 1630 (+/- 30 years) between 25 and 65 million cubic meters of lava was erupted at Castle Peak. Three failed eruptions (non-eruptive seismic events) occurred in the 1890’s, 1930’s, and 1960’s. In September, 1965, a Pan American Boeing 707 flew into Chance’s Peak killing all 30 aboard.

Map of the Soufrière Hills volcano showing the old domes   (Credit British Geological Society)

Map of the Soufrière Hills volcano showing the old domes
(Credit British Geological Society)

If there was one thing the residents of Montserrat did NOT need, it was their volcano waking up. On September 17, 1989, Hugo, a Category 4 hurricane struck the island with sustained winds of 140 miles per hour (225 kph), damaging over 90 percent of the structures on the island. Nearly every home on Monserrat was destroyed or heavily damaged, leaving 11,000 of the island’s 12,000 people homeless. Numerous schools, hospitals, and churches were destroyed, along with the police department, the government headquarters, and the main power station. Twenty foot waves in the harbor of Plymouth, destroyed the 180-foot stone jetty, and heavy rains of up to seven inches created mudslides. Ten people were killed on Montserrat, 89 injured, and damage topped $260 million, making it the most expensive hurricane in the island’s history. Electric, water, and telephone service were disrupted for weeks, necessitating a massive U.S. and British relief effort.

In July of 1992, just 3 years after Hugo, the seismic activity on Montserrat started. The largest swarm occurred in June of 1994. The initial small phreatic eruption produced minor ash that spread around the island. Periods of intense seismic activity were associated with strong venting of steam and ash. A new vent formed southwest of Castle Peak.
On July 18, 1995, phreatic explosions spewed up to 20 feet (6 meters) of ash over the capital city of Plymouth totally destroying the town while two-thirds of the island’s population was forced to flee. This short video of that eruption tells the story more than I could possibly say in words:

The first magmatic explosion of the eruption occurred on 17 September 1996. In early August 1997, 12 explosions occurred approximately 10 hours apart. A further 75 explosions occurred between 22 September and 21 October 1997 at between 3 and 33 hour intervals. A lateral blast occurred on 26 December 1997.  It was caused by the collapse of the south-west flank of the volcano at Galway’s Soufriere. About 60 million cubic meters of dome and crater wall travelled to the south as a debris avalanche and pyroclastic flows. The villages of St. Patrick’s and Morris were swept away in less than thirty minutes.

The last eruption occurred in February of 2010 when there was a partial collapse of the lava dome. There were at least 2 explosions and several pyroclastic flows causing extensive damage to buildings in Harris and Cork Hill (see exclusion zone map) and the surrounding area. Since then, there has been only fumaroles and some ash venting.

Today the Soufriere Hills activity is low with a hazard level of 2.  There are some rock falls and a few earthquakes happening each week.  There is still in place an exclusion zone that is nearly 2/3 of the island.

316wakp.jpg

Although the island is in recovery mode, the 2011 census shows a population of 4,922 down from the pre-eruption population of approximately 12,000. Many have tried to return to the island, but there is not yet enough housing available. A new town and port is currently being developed at Little Bay, which is on the northwest coast of the island. A new airport opened in 2005. While this construction proceeds, the center of government and businesses rests at Brades.

In July of 1995 a temporary facility was set up to monitor the volcano. Since April 2008, the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) has been managed through a partnership of the Eastern Caribbean’s two major geo-hazard organizations; The UWI (University of West Indies) Seismic Research Centre (Trinidad and Tobago) and the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (France).   Soufriere Hills volcano is now one of the best monitored volcanoes in the world. MVO briefs the government at least weekly and prepares daily reports for radio and media.

For a complete chronology of current eruption (through March 2012):
http://www.mvo.ms/about-volcanoes/soufriere-hills-volcano/chronology-of-current-eruption

For live webcam:

http://www.mvo.ms/science/monitoring/171-volcano-live/1718

This past October the E/V Nautilus was exploring the deep waters off Montserrat to see what effects the landslides and pyroplastic flows had on the biology of the region. The weather, however, was not very cooperative. Nautilus uses a stabilizing system that allows the ship to remain stationary or move in small increments at a time while the ROV’s are on the seafloor. When the wind causes the waves to get too high, trying to hold position causes the stabilizing system pump to overheat. This was the problem during the Montserrat expedition and several dives had to be either aborted or moved to another part of the island. Nautilus will be back in the Caribbean in 2014, so maybe an update will be in order then. Unfortunately, I have no screen shots from Montserrat, so I have listed below videos posted during the expedition. All are about 3 minutes each and cover a range of information.

Enjoy!

Bobbi

Behind the science – Caribbean volcanoes

Dr. Steve Carey ** explains the E/V Nautilus’ mission to the island of Montserrat

http://www.nautiluslive.org/video/2013/10/21/behind-science-caribbean-volcanoes

**   http://www.nautiluslive.org/people/steve-carey

Big Rocks, Big Waves – Uncovering Montserrat’s Geological History

Dr. Steve Carey from the University of Rhode Island and Lead Scientist on the E/V Nautilus’ mission to the island of Montserrat explains their primary objectives in finding evidence of the 1997 volcanic eruption that swept entire villages into the sea. http://www.nautiluslive.org/video/2013/10/30/big-rocks-big-waves-uncovering-montserrats-geological-history

Path of the eruption – Investigating Montserrat’s south slope

This video shows some animal life, coral and debris.

http://www.nautiluslive.org/video/2013/10/25/path-eruption-investigating-montserrats-south-slope

Mission to Montserrat – Life on the east slope

This video shows primarily animal life at 1,000 meters (3,280 feet), but you can get an idea of how steep the slopes are.

http://www.nautiluslive.org/video/2013/10/23/mission-montserrat-life-east-slope

References:

Montserrat Volcano Observatory  http://www.mvo.ms/

Volcano Discovery  http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/montserrat.html

The Huffington Post  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/08/montserrat-volcano-eruption_n_4059709.html

Wikipedia  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montserrat

British Geological Society  http://www.bgs.ac.uk/discoveringGeology/hazards/volcanoes/montserrat/home.html

Wunderground  http://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/hugo_day_9.asp

Nautilus Live  http://www.nautiluslive.org/

Aviation Safety Network   http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19650917-0

Paradise Islands  http://www.paradise-islands.org/montserrat.htm

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153 thoughts on “Montserrat Island, Soufriere Hills Volcano

    • Didn’t get to do much in Antigua either other than grab a beer. It was supposed to be a reward for mindlessly wandering around the Caribbean tracking stuff but it turned out to be a “get gas and go” event.

      Later the goat locker made up for it in St Thomas. I think that’s where I got my payback for a particularly embarrassing “prank” that was played on me. I tricked the originator of that prank into making a statement that personally embarrassed himself, though he was the only one who heard it. Oh the joy of seeing the revelation drift across his face that he had been had. “Oh you mother@#$@#!” was his response. That in itself was reward enough for me. 😀

      Public humiliation is not needed to get payback as long as the mark knows he was had. (and, if you are three sheets to the wind, don’t think I won’t seek vengeance. Your guard is down and I will exploit it.)

  1. Hi Bobbi
    nice article, a good summary of the events.

    there are some microscope images from the ash coming from the 2010 dome collapse. I collected them while being in Guadeloupe at the time. Spica did all the hard work, using the equipment there is at Ars Electronica.

    https://volcanocafe.wordpress.com/microscopic-images/soufriere-hills/

    There are also some pics I made of the incoming ash cloud and of the falling ash in Saint François, Guadeloupe, FWI.
    The following morning (the ashcould arrived around 5.30pm so about one hour before sunset), a good part of Guadeloupe was covered by an ash blanket sometimes 1 cm deep.

    http://www.panoramio.com/user/4007767?comment_page=1&photo_page=4

    http://www.panoramio.com/user/4007767?comment_page=1&photo_page=5

  2. Thanks Bobbi for a nice post.

    As an aside, the Irish ‘settlers’ were mostly slaves. Most people think that the British slave trade was almost entirely in Africans, but when it got started in the mid-17th century it was mostly Irish being transported to the Caribbean.

  3. In the mid-1600s this was slavery in its most brutal form – if anything, the Irish were treated worse than the African slaves that followed them.

    “Indentured servant” meant something rather different – it was still cheap labour, but the worker was free when they had worked out their agreed period of employment.

    • I even read that in the streets of Liverpool at that time you had to be careful not to be grabbed and dragged onto one of those slave ships, no matter what nationality you were. Profit mattered, and if the ship wasn’t packed full they just went and recruited the lacking number of people from the street.

      • Well, I have an expresso and hot chocolate sitting here. But tomorrow I have to go play in the stuff… 124 miles out, and 124 miles back. It’s supposed to be sleet when I leave out, and snowing when I’m on the way back. My greatest concern? Those that slept through physics. The truckers shouldn’t be any problem. They encounter this sort of stuff from time to time during their journeys. It’s the local traffic that will be the issue… along with Los turistas del Norte cussing the local traffic and trying to show off their bad ass snow driving skills. Those are the ones that will kill you.

        • Stay safe. Ice is no fun. I won’t drive on it and I’m from northern Illinois. Snow? No problem. Ice? No way! I was driving on a street once that has a bit of a curve and then goes down under the railroad tracks. Too late I realized that several cars were stopped at the bottom because it had iced up and they could get no traction to get up the other side. I couldn’t get stopped before I was going to ram a car in front of me, so I hit the brakes just enough to get me sideways so that I could at least slide into it easier than a frontal hit. To my amazement, I ended up with about 3 inches to spare. Thank God no one ended up hitting me. I never took physics, but I had common sense and good experience.

        • My physics comment meant those that blissfully ignore it. Experience easily makes up for book knowledge in this case.

          If it gets particularly stupid, and should I make it back, I plan to go to the overpass for the bay bridge with a camera. The bridge is very new, having been rebuilt after Ivan destroyed some of the original bridge. Waves reflected off of the sides of the bay converged in the middle and lifted a few of the slabs off of their supports. There was one fatality as a tractor trailer rig couldn’t stop in time and the cab fell into the bay during the storm. The rebuild consisted of a fully new bridge and the deconstruction of the old one.

        • I’m still a bit perplexed about where the water will come from.

          The advancing front has pushed the moisture out of the way. Without moisture, you get no ice or snow. None of the models I’ve seen show a low forming just offshore that can pull the moist air up over the cold. That’s about the only mechanism that I can see that would do it, and like I said… it’s just not there…. at least yet.

  4. Thanks for good article, Bobbi! You know how to make history alive.
    What a misery for the inhabitants!
    Great video showing PF going out over the sea.

  5. Thanks Bobbi, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article about one of my favorite volcanoes, and rummaging through the links you provided, afterwards.

    If anyone is interested in life on Montserrat after the eruption, there is a very nice 9-part documentary (of 3 to 10 min. each), by Director David William Seitz, I think from 2005-7. Part 3 is a moving piece on the aftermath of the 1997 eruption.

    https://www.youtube.com/user/davidwseitz

    It is amazing to see how the mostly dark skinned people are so much into Irish culture, mixing Irish dancing and music with African drumming and fashion, being catholic, and celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

  6. Just got home from work and found my article has been posted. Thank you everyone for your kind comments and contributions. I found the research I did to be very interesting and my heart really went out to the people of Montserrat. So much suffering they have gone through and yet their spirits are high.

    • Yup, in a way this is worse than Sinabung, because there were stuck on the island. There was a similar event in 76′ in Guadeloupe where they evacuated 70 000 people because of the phreatic eruption of Grande Soufrière. But the big differences are that Guadeloupe is much larger than Montserrat (Geologically speaking it is 2 islands side to side, which is unique in the Carribean), and the eruption was less intense and shorter. Plus Guadeloupe is a french “département” which means it has the same prerogatives as any other one on the mainland (police and army presence, sanitary equipment, firemen….). The Status of the former british dominions is different.

      • 4,000 out of a population of 7,000 were evacuated from Montserrat to either neighbouring islands or the UK. Think that the option was available to more but they did not take it up.

        • The initial population was more around 11000-12000.
          As more than half of the island was not safe, this evacuation was kind of logical. Also there are only connections with the former british dominions (Antigua, St Kitts). For instance, if you are in Guadeloupe (which is one of the nearest island to Montserrat (less than 60 kms)- you can actually see the island and volcano from Guadeloupe), you do not have a regular ship of plane line. You need to go to Antigua and then change plane to Montserrat. More over, the old airport and the capital were destroyed by PFs. The island was left pretty much isolated as the only one safe harbor is in the north.

  7. While trying to stay current, I am trying to catch up on previous posts. There was some discussion about soapstone. I had no idea this has volcanic origins. It has become very popular here in the states in the making of kitchen counter tops.

    • Well, volcanic in a roundabout way. The material it forms from is serpentinized ultramafic rock. The sort that forms along seafloor spreading ridges. After that is ground up into a talc like rock, the “re-lithification” and metamorphism makes the soapstone.

      Technically, all rocks come from some sort of igneous process in their early history… even its from the Hadean eon.

      • Well, that about says it all. Even though I’ve watched documentaries about this time in earth’s evolution, I just don’t generally think back that far. Kind of like only reading half a book, huh?

      • The Hadean is actually the easiest one to remember. Think “Hell.” It’s pretty much the time from accretion of a spinning blob of magma until it cooled enough to support the precursor molecules needed for life.

        Thinking Biblically, “The Earth was without form and void…”

    • I wonder if the soapstone used for counter tops is somehow treated to reinforce the surface? Even the harder varieties have a Mohs hardness of just 3-4, so it would be scratched easily by anything metal in the kitchen. Another use I read for it in wiki: “Soapstones can be put in a freezer and later used in place of ice cubes to chill alcoholic beverages without diluting. These are called whiskey stones”. Have you not always been annoyed about your On the Rocks being so… well… not strong enough? 😀

      • Yeah, I can imagine some poor sap deciding they want to chew on the ice. Some do it out of habit, so I can imagine the surprise they get when they slip up.

      • The whiskystones are wonderfull, I have quite a lot of them, but I use them in the morning juice instead of in the whisky.

  8. From the post: “Due to its similar appearance of coastal Ireland and early Irish settlers…”

    This is probably very important from a human point of view. By descent, I am Irish on my mothers side. That part of the family has been in and around Central Mississippi since at least 1790. (I’ve seen the court records). It wasn’t until one port of call that we made that I realized just how much a familiar region was to someone. We had stopped in Cobh Ireland and while touring the area on foot, I was struck by just how much the area looked and felt like Central Mississippi. It was uncanny. Oddly enough, Cobh was likely the debarkation point for those early ancestors however many years ago. I can understand why the Southeast of the US was so popular to Irish immigrants. It was virtually identical, with the possible exception of the mosquitoes, moccasins, and gators (if you are near the coast) The French-Canadian method of dealing with the gators was to just make a meal of them. (gator shows up in Cajun cuisine). Reportedly, they make fine shoe leather.

    • I’m not surprised. Probably made some sort of tasty stew. Throw in some okra and strong peppers and you’ll get a winner.

  9. There was a documentary on my TV Station. That Volcano is spectacular but there is more steam in its eruptions. Also, There is more vegetation surrounding it. That is unless I have the wrong beast.

  10. On Etna, lava has been flowing all night long. There hasn’t been much to see on the cams though, as they are caked with ice and ash, and also the lava is steaming heavily in the freezing cold. The tremor is going dowm as slowly as it went up before.

  11. Good morning. 🙂
    Many thanks Bobbi for a great post. So hard for the residents of any volcanic island. Most Islands to outsiders are a place to go to escape the rat race. To live in seclusion. A paradise of warmth in a cold world. To the residents, the volcanoes give plenty. Rich soils and heavy crops. However they take away a permanence and safety. Those on Tristan da Chuna , Montserrat and El Hierro know the feeling of fear , anxiety and loss. Island eruptions highlight the need for continuation of the search for accurate monitoring and warning systems.
    Risk mitigation is understood on volcanic Islands both by the authorities and the inhabitants.
    Here in the UK we have no volcanoes. Our weather and physical geography is temperate. We have weeks and weeks or rainfall and dreary, grey days with occasional hurricane force winds from the west and theoretically this should pose little risk.
    However what we do have is greed and the lack of applying historical knowledge that causes untold misery that could be avoided.
    I was born on the Somerset levels. As a child I learned the necessity of keeping the ditches (Rhynes) which drained the fields , free from silting and obstruction. The Somerset levels were once a vast marsh and the land was drained by digging huge ditches and channels in the 1600 s to create a fertile plain. Villages and farms were built on small areas of higher land. Roads were built on raised track ways called causeways.
    In 1607 a tsunami, thought to be caused by the collapse of the edge of the continental shelf, caused death, destruction and horrendous flooding right across the levels.
    Today farmers are facing ruin due to massive flooding from heavy rains. The rhynes were silted up because of either bad management or cuts in local authority spending.. Also many wealthy people have bought land and property as an investment or for an idyllic country way of life. They have no knowledge of caring for their lands. They neglected the rhynes as they are expensive to clear. All across Britain developers have built on flood plains and now….Surprise! Surprise! more and more people have homes that are flooded.
    Isn’t it a good thing that Britain has no active Volcanoes? God help us when we get hit by a major earthquake! Yes! It is very much a possibility. They happened in the past and will happen again.
    Ah well! My first rumination for a long time. Somewhat depressing but with all our knowledge and technology it never ceases to amaze me how our society shuns the simple lessons of history.
    Time for coffee # 3 and a warm up…snow forecast for later today.
    Oh! and thanks to the jet stream we have Iceland’s winds and weather 🙂 You are welcome to have it back 🙂

  12. Hi

    IGN has updated its GPS plots for El Hierro.

    Here is the update on the deformation animation

    The situation seems pretty stable. There was a minimum on the 19th but the value variations come mainly from measurement artefacts I think (seeing mainly that some values can change very quickly on the range of 10 to 20 mm). However the deformation is still present.

  13. Hello, Diana! Nice to see you around!
    What a nice post, Bobbi. Never realized Montserrat was such a small island! Makes me wonder if there is any safe place at all, even the northern part of it!
    And yes, I do see similarities with Sinabung the main difference being that the island is limited by the ocean and Karo district is limited by overpopulated areas and wilderness, which prevents people to escape to safer places.
    I’ve always thought that Plymouth had been destroyed by pyroclastic flows, not ashes – 6 meters – wow!
    It is interesting to read about Monserrat Guadalupe’s “failed” eruption. It is a good example of how tough a volcanologist’s job can be. Imagine evacuate 70 000 and then say: “false alarm” – no politician can resist this kind of pressure. Think of L’Aquila…

    • Hi Renato

      Actually there was a big fight between H.Tazieff and Claude Allègre (who became much later french science ministry). The evacuation was decided because of a typo, as the Tazieff document was stating a delay between the start of action and evacuation of 24 h. But the typo was 2′, so , as Tazieff had left to go see an erupting volcano in central america, the local authorities decided the evacuation. Costly typo indeed….but with some reflection they chose the path to safety.
      you can find some information with this link.

      http://www.ipgp.fr/~beaudu/soufriere/forum76.html#FB2006

      it’s in french but google will handle it I think. The guy who produced this is Very knowledgeable as he is one of the former director of the Guadeloupe observatory and a renowned volcanologist (and Matlab guru also but it is another question)

    • “no politician can resist this kind of pressure.”

      Then they haven’t met our professional liars here in the US. Many in our system lie with impunity.

      They are a most skilled group that lack any shred of moral fibre. I feel that they would sell their daughters and sons into prostitution if there was a chance that they could make a buck off of it.

      Lord help you if you have an alternate opinion than the people in power, they just sic the tax dogs on you if you pose a credible threat in the “election” process or make one of them look bad because the facts don’t mesh with what they are saying.

      The sad thing is that it took an equally disreputable piece of shit to point out just how pervasive the government snoops are. I guess it takes a skunk to illuminate a skunk.

      • The internal automatic list is still updating, so they have manually removed about 50 earthquakes… that where real earthquakes. Hell knows what they are doing over there today.

      • I think someone forgot to have morning coffee and pushed the wrong button in his or her bleary eyed state…

          • They just put that one in… Mysterioso…
            I wonder if someone today decided that yesterdays earthquakes had been badly checked and decided to redo the entire list from scratch..

      • Could be someone like me. I’m fumbling around the house in order to get on the road before that icefest shows up. The way it’s looking, I may have clear running until just before I get back into town… provided I can get off my ass and go.

        It’s dropped by 2°F since I woke up. Right now the stuff is about 70 to 100 miles North of here.

    • Slowly the earthquakes are coming back…
      Seems like someone on IMO did not like how someone else at IMO had checked the quakes and decided to redo them. And did it on a grand scale.

      • And now a third person removed the redone quakes and started to put in their own list…
        This is starting to be rather silly…

          • And now I think they are done… It just goes to show how hard it is even for the pros to get accurate locationing of the quakes.

            • Seems like they fixed the update problems while they where at it.
              Now the same quakes in the other list shows up on the IMO-list too. Goodie 🙂

  14. Yesterday some pictures appeared on the Etna Walk webcam which made me wonder what I actually was seeing. My guess is that the location is beneath the ongoing eruption, down in the Valle del Bove, where recently a “thermal anomaly” was reported. But, so far that is only a guess.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    • The lights on the left seem to be a road so perhaps the moving lights are traffic exaggerated by mist or smoke 😕

    • That’s a webcam looking at Etna from south, and the lights at left are the row of streetlamps that illuminate the tourist area of the Rifugio Sapienza (where the Etna cable-car starts). You can see low cloud drifting over the lights. Only one frame shows a zoom on the clouds illuminated by the latest lava flow.

  15. I guess this is the reason for all the IMO fiddling with the earthquakes.
    Must be hell to calculate a completely impossible earthquake. There is just nothing down there that can snap.
    I do though think they got it right, if so it is impressive. (and thanks to Islander who found this beast-quake)

    Tuesday 28.01.2014 13:48:45 66.376 -18.838 45.2 km 1.3 99.0 26.3 km N of Siglufjörður

    • Well, I just saw a of the local twits state that she has never seen it like this and she has “lived her all of her life!”

      … yeah, okay babs. You are probably too young to have been cognizant of the period of time where our fire apparatus slid off the road from the ice buildup under it from the leaky pump. Seeing as you’re every bit of what? 23?

      One of her co reporters waylaid a pedestrian in downtown Mobile to get his opinion of this massive ice event. Turned out he wasn’t that impressed…. he’s from Colorado and in town on business. He’s not from here but thought it was bit unusual for Mobile.

      (reporter fail #2)

        • Ding!

          … actually, I think they cull those that exhibit independent thought or that have some measure of moral fibre.

        • How would that then explain Larry King. He is butt-ugly, nobody wants to know him, and no contacts for the previous two reasons :mrgreen:

          • He is as old as dirt and came with the territory. He’s also full-on stupid, but something that can be wheeled out as a sort of ad-hoc statesman for jibbering bobbleheads.

    • I guess it is the same as we would have if we ever had a heatwave of 40C here. Our news-people would also fall over themselves. I think we once hit 35…

      • ok, but we only have two TV stations, thus just 2 reporters making themselves dummy.
        The sentance “not in living memory” and those oldest likely are too old remembering

  16. I’m glad I am not out playing in the Road Show.

    http://www.flhsmv.gov/fhp/traffic/crs_h002.htm

    BTW, we have no snow plows. It never snow here. (well, it’s akin to a black swan event) But we do have dirt roads, and lots of red clay/sand. Break out the road graders and loads of red sand and you have a workable solution. The sand acts as a grit to offer some traction.

    • Ding! Thats how we do it.
      Snowplows are plows moving snow,
      and most effective machinery is “Payloader” – with Snowplow, not Showel.
      (Or an tenwheeler)
      And we use high grade sand and lowest grade salt.

      • I put in the same question over at the FB VC since we have a small army of Sicilians over there. One of them is bound to know the answer.


        • I read Dr. Boris comment below, that really did not look like the lights of a city. I thought it was moving and steaming while i watched.

    • That’s a webcam standing amidst a number of other instruments on the “Schiena dell’Asino”, on the southeast flank of Etna. Normally this should look toward the summit area, but it has been turned around into the opposite direction (for reasons I don’t know) looking down onto Catania and surrounding towns (that’s what makes the lights in the background) 😉

      • Boris, I know you live in the area. As a squid (sailor) in the USN, I have to say that one of the more enjoyable stops I had was in Catania. I ranks it right up there with Trieste as for memorable stops. I throughly enjoyed it there, though that could be a direct relationship between the Optempo we were under vs the crisp coldness of the beer. 🙂 (we had been spending time tracking stuff running from Brindisi to Tivat)

        My only complaint was the dog down in the shipyard areas near the pier. Not a critter to be trifled with. He actually bit our van.

        At the time, Etna was only smoldering in the distance.

        • hahahahaha, there are now many more of these dogs (they do actually come in numerous packs), even my wife has been bitten once by a straying dog in her leg, which was one of the reasons we moved out of Catania into the area of smaller towns closer to Etna. Catania has gone way down over the past decade, hopefully with the recently re-elected mayor Bianco (who was also in charge in the 1990s, when Catania had a marvellous period of blossoming) will bring the city back to a slightly more decent state.

        • Reportedly, one of our sailors returning from liberty got stranded down in that shipyard area, having been “polled” by the dog. (the same as treed, but without a tree, just a light pole that he could flee to for safety). From what I understand, the whole assemblage in the passing liberty van had to drive the dog away so that they could pick him up.

          • Would have been worse if the dog had forced him to stand still and then used him as a dog normally uses a pole… and gone were no dog has gone before :mrgreen:

            • Well, had it been me, I would have used that as an opportunity for a nut shot. That is a fast way to deter an angry vicious dog. They gain an almost god like reverence for you when you inflict that much pain in such a short moment.

              “hmm.. That creature is not something I want to trifle with”

              I had one unruly dog that I wasn’t really paying attention to that tried to dry hump my leg while I was watching TV. I flinched and my leg shot out to get him away from me and I inadvertently caught him square in the jimmies with the top of my foot. After the wailing was over, that dog never gave me any sass and listed to anything I had to say. In one flinch I had dramatically changed our dominance relationship forever. If course I had to chase him down to comfort him and let him know that I wasn’t about to kill him, but from then on he listened when I told him anything.

  17. Interesting new 5.0 quake east of Honshu. It’s in an area peppered with aftershocks from the great Tohoku quake, except this one is only 1 km depth? The epicenter is slightly NW of Futaba Seamount. The other quakes in the vicinity all have focal depths of around 23-25 km, so a 1km depth is quite unusual. If this is real, then I wonder if subsurface volcanism may be involved (or perhaps a landslide?) http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/usc000mc9c#scientific

    • It is not on the same part that had the Tohoku quake. That is on that bizarr line of Seamounts we talked about a month ago. Probably ancient seamounts, but on the other hand you have the nutsy volcanism over at Nishinoshima that should not exist either, so it is anyones guess really.

    • Here I am having the first average January in ten years with temperatures ranging between -10C and -30C.
      And in the southern hemisphere they are having record high temperatures.
      What will be interesting is to see if this will be the 285th consecutive month above average temperature or if it will be the first month that is average or even below? I am more or less betting that it will be above average, the area chilled is actually rather small compared to the hot areas, and just to confound things, the entire Russian landmass is warm this winter. So, what we are seeing is a normal fluctuation of the arctic high moving warm air into russia and pushing cold air down the US. Untill the seventies this happened about every ten years.
      So, what is a warm Russian winter? Well, Irkutsk, Yakutsk, Verkhoyansk, Oymyakon and Tankograd is basking in a -40C heatwave instead of the normal -60C to -70C. All is relative.

      • As a Russian friend of mine once said:”In Siberia we get out the suntan lotion if it’s above -30C!”
        I miss ‘ol Gino he was one of the most interesting people I ever knew.Chess hustler, Math whiz,
        Scary pilot, but totally fearless. Not a good thing. I do _not_ discount anything if it is Russian origin. In part because of Gino..

    • Two bridge segments of I-10 are shut down. The Escambia Bay Bridge and the Mobile bay bridge. The alternate route for the Escambia bay bridge has construction on it, and two steel grid spans. That’s gonna work well… An alternate is to take Muskogie road and cross north of there, or to drive all the way to the North end of the county and cross the river at State Rd 4, which has a long bridge section/raised roadway across the swamp. And some bridges up along SR-4 are already closed.

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